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Thursday November 25, 2021
Happy New Year!!! No, I haven’t been transported to some distant science-fiction planet – this Sunday is the beginning of the liturgical year for the Christian church in the western world.
To be more specific, it’s the first Sunday of Advent, the period preceding Christmas. Advent always starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
So why would the Christian year not simply match a calendar year?
Because religions honour their tradition more than secular standards. So the Christian liturgical year doesn’t match the school year starting in September, the Gregorian year, or even the solar year, which would probably start on a solstice.
A related question, then – why start the year with Advent?
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: New Year, Advent, baton
Thursday November 18, 2021
As I grow older, I realize how much friends matter.
I didn’t always feel that way. Friends came into my life; friends passed out of my life. I moved on and left the old friends behind.
There always seemed to be enough friends around.
Not any more. Far too many friends have died. Others still live, but too little contact and too many years mean the only thing we have in common now is youthful memories.
Author Frederik Buechner understood the importance of friends better than I did. In his book Whistling the Dark, he wrote: “Your friends are not your friends for any particular reason. They are your friends for no particular reason. The job you do, the family you have, the way you vote, the major achievements and blunders of your life, your religious convictions or lack of them, are all somehow set off to one side when the two of you get together."
Tags: Senses, Remembrance Day, peace
Sunday November 14, 2021
I don’t get it. How, and why, in the world of professional sports, is a ten-year-old sexual encounter considered a more serious offence than constant physical violence?
My ruminations are, of course, founded on the lawsuit launched by former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach that former video-coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted him and another player during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup.
As a result, at least three executives have lost or quit their jobs.
But no executive has ever lost his job because his players gave superstar Sidney Crosby a concussion – four concussions, officially, probably more never diagnosed.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: sex, NHL, violence
Thursday December 11, 2021
I don’t feel qualified to write about Remembrance Day. I’ve never served in any war.
Two uncles did serve. My uncle Andy was chief surgeon with the British Army’s retreat from Burma – a 1000-mile retreat that makes Dunkirk look like child’s play in a bathtub. But I won’t go into details.
Joan’s uncle Frank died in Italy during WWII. Joan was about five. What she remembers, most, was the smell of his rough wool serge uniform, when he picked her up for a goodbye hug.
She never saw him again.
And she could never stand the smell of serge or the colour khaki.
In the context of today, Remembrance Day 2021, I wonder how our senses would recognize peace.
Sunday November 7, 2021
One week into COP26 – the UN’s annual Conference of the Parties on climate change – the event makes me think of a hairdresser’s appointment: lots of fuss at the top, and nothing happening farther down.
This year’s Conference, in Glasgow, Scotland, loudly proclaims a couple of significant agreements.
First, 165 countries signed an agreement to phase out coal as an energy source. But the world’s three biggest coal burners – China, the U.S., and India -- did not sign.
The 39,000 national representatives thronging into Glasgow arecarefully avoiding the one crucial issue that underlies all other crises – population growth.
It’s no accident, I suggest, that the three biggest coal-burning nations, who refused to commit to eliminating coal fuels, are also the three most populous nations in the world.
Tags: COP26, climate crisis, Glasgow
Thursday December 4, 2021
The bus ahead of me stopped at the roadside. A stream of young children gushed out the door onto the grass. After the last child, the shepherding adults got off.
By then the kids were celebrating their freedom from confinement. They flung their backpacks on the ground. They romped around in wild disarray.
The driver no longer had any responsibility for them.
But the driver didn’t leave. The bus waited. Long enough to form a protective barrier between the kids and any passing cars. Just long enough to make sure the adults had their flock under control.
Then, and only then, with a squish of air, the doors closed, the brakes released, the bus resumed its route.
Tags: Buber, bus driver, I-thou